Monthly Archives

October 2016

Texas Health Insurance in Flux

By | Health Reform

Is Obamacare sinking in Texas? Or just facing more growing pains?

MITCHELL SCHNURMAN BUSINESS INSIGHT

MITCHELL SCHNURMAN
BUSINESS INSIGHT

Health care spending nationwide will hit a new high this year, rising 4.8 percent, the government said last week. Over l million Texans who buy insurance on HealthCare.gov can only dream of having it so good.

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas, which has about half the state’s exchange customers, wants to increase premiums almost 60 percent for 2017. Scott and White Health Plan wants to ratchet up premiums over 30 percent, and Cigna, 24 percent. Aetna and Oscar are planning double-digit increases, too.

UnitedHealth. the country’s largest insurer, is pulling out of the exchange business in Texas and over a dozen other states.

Many consumers already feel squeezed by the cost of insurance, along with high deductibles and co-pays. In Texas, 85 percent of exchange Customers get federal subsidies to offset premiums, and federal officials say shopping round usually uncovers an affordable plan. But subsidies won’t necessarily keep pace with increases at Blue Cross and Scott and White, whose final prices will probably be announced this fall.

Broker Bob Garrison of Insurance Connection USA in Denton said that this week, a young woman with two children called to discuss dropping the family’s Blue Cross plan for a few months. She and her husband pay about $1,300 L month and can’t face more sticker shock, he said.

“When your health insurance is bigger than the mortgage, something’s wrong,” Garrison said.

It’s not working for Blue Cross, either.

In justifying its rate increase to state regulators, the company said it paid $1.26 in claims for every $1 in premiums collected last year. For the state’s largest insurer, that resulted in a loss of $770 million in the individual marketplace. And Blue Cross is projecting another loss this year for its exchange business.

To some, this is further evidence that the Affordable Care Act is unsustainable. Higher premiums are likely to drive away potential enrollees, especially healthier people, and that could lead to a down- ward spiral.

“Pretty soon, health insurance on the exchange will be a good deal only for the very sick,” said Devon Herrick, senior fellow at the National Center for Policy Analysis in Dallas. “More healthy folks will drop out and pay the fine. That appears to be happening in Texas.”

Others see the price spikes – and big losses at insurers – as part of the evolution of a new insurance market. What’s happening with Obamacare is reminiscent of other pro- grams, such as Medicare Ad- vantage, said Ashraf Shehata of the consulting firm KPMG.

“It gets better,” he said, adding that it typically takes three to five years for a new insurance market to stabilize.

“Texas is in the middle of many changes right now, and it kind of feels like the valley of despair,” said Shehata, who specializes in health care. “But l’ve seen other states figure out how to be successful.” That typically entails more coordinated care among providers, keeping new customers in the system and controlling expenses, including pharmacy bills. He cited gains in parts of New York and Minnesota and said Dallas-area providers are heading down the right path already.

Employer plans

Eventually, such progress is likely to be imported into the employer-sponsored market, where about half of Americans get health coverage. On the exchange, plan designs have embraced narrower networks of doctors and hospitals.

For 2016, Blue Cross dropped its PPO on the exchange and offered only HMO plans, which have fewer providers and little or no coverage outside the network. Judging from its rate increases, the strategy hasn’t bent the cost curve yet.

In its state filing, Blue Cross said medical claims were significantly higher than expected. But insurers have also complained about customers dropping coverage and jumping back in later. People can cite special circumstances, such as job loss or marriage, to enroll at any time, not just during open enrollment. Apparently, many are waiting until they’re sick to get coverage.

Special enrollment customers used 55 percent more medical services, the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association said earlier this year. One-fourth to one-third of exchange customers signed up through special enrollment, a spokesman for the parent company of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas told The New York Times.

Tightening rules

Federal officials are trying to tighten the rules on continuous coverage without reject­ing people who have a legiti­mate change in circumstanc­es.

“They’re trying to balance access to coverage with what’s rational for insurance compa­nies,” said Elizabeth Carpenter of Avalere Health, a consult­ing firm.

She expects regulators to scrutinize special enrollment more closely and strengthen rules to discourage exits. En­rollment in the exchanges is well short of some early pro­jections, and Texas sign-ups are trailing the national aver­age and some other large states, notably Florida.

In Texas, an estimated 18 percent of people are still uninsured, Blue Cross Blue Shield said in an email.

That’s hurting the health of the exchange market here. Some tweaks can be made by federal agencies, and Austin lawmakers could urge more Texans to participate – if they can get past the politics.

Other improvements, such as adding low-cost insurance options or changing the age bands for pricing, could set Obarmacare on a stronger course for the long term.

But there’s a tough hurdle: Those changes require ap­proval from Congress. And that’s a no go, at least until the next president.

MITCHELL SCHNURMAN mschnurman@dallasnews.com Twitter:@mitchschnurman

Obama on soaring health insurance premiums: ‘I had nothing to do with that’

By | Health Reform

ObamaCare has had a disastrous effect on the health insurance market in this country, and it takes a hell of a lot of nerve for this guy to stand there and say it couldn’t possibly have anything to do with him.

Sure, it’s classic Obama deflection. He could probably smear dog crap on the bottom of your shoe and somehow make the case that it was all because of Republicans. He is that brazen. But it’s also a classic case of something Obama shares with many other liberals – the utter failure to understand that when the government messes around with private markets, the uninvited intervention affects all aspects of the private market. Because markets work like that.

Speaking in Florida, Obama insists that rising health insurance rates have nothing whatsoever to do with ObamaCare, and argues that most people get their health insurance from employer plans that are not ObamaCare plans. Thus, how can it possibly be his fault?

President Barack Obama offers multiple excuses for why health insurance premiums continue to skyrocket, including blaming Republicans and insurance companies for the problems.

He complains that too many reporters spend more time discussing premium increases than explaining why he isn’t responsible for them.

“No, I had nothing to do with that,” Obama said, calling it “complicated” despite the “hysteria” that was growing.

The president argued that most people got their health care from their jobs, insisting that Obamacare didn’t even affect their premiums or health policy changes.

“These are decisions made by your employers, it’s not because of Obamacare,” he said.

This is very much like when Democrats want to raise tax rates and insist it will have no effect whatsoever on economic growth, or job creation. Why, those are separate expenses! That wasn’t because of what we did!

But of course it was. Money is fungible and what you do to someone’s costs in one spot will affect their ability to handle costs in all others. Health insurance companies are getting socked with record losses because they were stupid enough to get on board with ObamaCare. These are the same health insurance companies who are selling policies to employers who buy them on behalf of their workers. What do you think is going to happen to the cost of the service overall?

Insurance is also a business that turns on the profile of risk pools. Because of ObamaCare, more people are entering these risk pools who are sick and unable to pay for services, and because of ObamaCare, more of these people are getting certain services for free, as Obama himself said in this very same speech:

Americans now got free preventive care, free checkups for women, free mammograms, and allowed children to stay on their parents health care plans into their 20s”.

Right, and when insurers have to cover all these things for free, without the patient even contributing so much as a co-pay, what do you think that does to the cost structure of the insurance company? It puts pressure on it, that’s what, and it has to be made up elsewhere. So premiums will soar and services will be squeezed when they sell group policies to employers.

Obama wants you to think that because some of these policies are not bought and sold on the ObamaCare exchange, that ObamaCare couldn’t possibly have anything to do with their costs going up. It has everything to do with their costs going up. It’s the entire reason the health insurance market has gotten so skewed. This is what liberals never understand. They think you can just pass laws saying everything has to be fair, or everything has to be free, and everything will be fair and free with no other impact on markets. And if there is an impact, it’s because people responding to the government’s meddling are bad or greedy.

ObamaCare has had a disastrous effect on the health insurance market in this country, and it takes a hell of a lot of nerve for this guy to stand there and say it couldn’t possibly have anything to do with him. But it also takes a lot of ignorance about markets to turn someone into as big a socialist as Obama is.

Canada Free Press, by —— Bio and Archives October 21, 2016

 

Fewer Americans Have Private Health Insurance Now Than in 2007

By | Health Insurance, Health Reform

President Obama and Hillary Clinton love to talk about the “20 million people” who’ve allegedly been added to the health insurance rolls under Obamacare. But in truth, a lower percentage of Americans have private health insurance now than in 2007, even though Obamacare is the law.

That’s according to the federal government’s own figures. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (see table 1.2b), 66.8 percent of those living in the United States had private health insurance in 2007. Now, as of 2015 (the most recent year for which figures are available), only 65.6 percent of those living in the United States have private health insurance.

It turns out that median incomes aren’t the only thing that have dropped since 2007.

There are currently about 320 million people living in America. If the percentage who have private health insurance were as high now as it was in 2007, 3.8 million more people would now have private health insurance.

Meanwhile, the CDC figures show that the percentage of people living in the United States who havepublic health coverage has risen dramatically, from 18.1 percent in 2007 to 25.3 percent in 2015 (see table 1.2a). If that percentage had stayed the same as in 2007, 23 million fewer people would now have public health coverage. In other words, Obamacare is a massive Medicaid expansion.

At Investor’s Business Daily, John Merline writes that “the entire decline in the uninsured rate for non-retirees since 2007 is due to the expansion of government health programs—mostly Medicaid” (italics in original).

And now Hillary Clinton wants to move us further in the direction of government-run health care, with a “public option” and Medicare for the middle-aged. The far better course of action for America is a conservative alternative that would get people onto private insurance of their choice and the get the government out of the business of controlling our health care sector.

Jeffrey H. Anderson, author of “An Alternative to Obamacare,” is a Hudson Institute senior fellow.

Obama Lied. My Third Health Plan Just Died.

By | Health Insurance, Health Reform

Once was a shock. Twice was an outrage. Thrice is a nightmare that won’t end.

Michelle Malkin

Affordable Care AstOver the past three years, my family’s private, individual health insurance plan — a high-deductible Preferred Provider Organization — has been canceled three times. Our first death notice, from Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield, arrived in the fall of 2013. Our second, from Rocky Mountain Health Plans, came last August. Three weeks ago, we received another ominous “notice of plan discontinuation” from Anthem informing us that the insurer “will no longer offer your current health plan in the State of Colorado.”

Every time we receive a cancellation letter, I recall President Obama’s big lie: “If you like your doctor, you will be able to keep your doctor. Period. If you like your health care plan, you will be able to keep your health care plan. Period. No one will take it away. No matter what.”

Then I imagine Vincent Price’s evil “Thriller” laugh reverberating at the end of that cruel punchline: Mwahahahahahaha!

(Actually, you can play a real-life horror soundtrack by watching Obama’s jerk speechwriters Jon Lovett, David Litt and Jon Favreau cackle with liberal PBS host Charlie Rose earlier this year about authoring Obamacare’s big lie. Google it, but take your blood pressure medication first.)

Like an estimated 22 million other Americans, I am a self-employed small-business owner who buys health insurance for my family directly on the individual market (as opposed to group insurance through a company or third party). Our most recent plan features a $6,000 deductible with a $1,000 monthly premium. It’s nosebleed expensive, but provides us access to specialists not curtailed by bureaucratic gatekeepers. This has been important for us because several members of my family have required specialized care for chronic illnesses.

Once again, however, I’ll soon be talking about our plan in the past tense. Choices for families like mine have evaporated in the era of Obamacare. In Colorado, UnitedHealthCare and Humana will cease selling individual plans next year. Rocky Mountain Health Plans is pulling out of the individual market in all but one county. Nearly 100,000 of my fellow Coloradans will be forced to find new insurance alternatives as open enrollment approaches on Nov. 1, according to the Denver Business Journal. As Anthem abandons PPOs, the cost of remaining individual market plans will soar an average of 20 percent.

It’s a nationwide implosion.

Individual market customers on the Obamacare exchange in Oklahoma learned last week that they’ll face average rate hikes of a whopping 76 percent. Last month, Maryland approved double-digit rate hikes for all individual market plans. In August, Tennessee approved rate increases of between 44 and 62 percent for three insurers still carrying individual market plans. And in Minnesota, where the individual market is on the brink of collapse, state officials recently agreed to raise rates an average of 60 percent next year — affecting an estimated 250,000 people both on and off the Obamacare exchanges.

The private individual insurance market is in peril. The government-run exchanges are flailing. And the vaunted nonprofit Obamacare co-ops that were supposed to dramatically lower costs have bombed despite billions in taxpayer subsidies.

Obamacare 2017 – Pay $200 More a Month – Get HALF the Coverage!

By | Health Insurance, Health Reform

You just got your Obamacare Renewal Notice – and it looks like this:

Obamashock

WOW! Hundreds of dollars premium increase – and then you see this:

– Total family deductible of $14,300 and NO coverage if you of out of network!

Deductible

What good is this health insurance if sky-high deductibles mean you never get to use it?

Are you like most Obamacare consumers where the sticker shock is hitting you not only on the front end for the price of the plan, but also on the back end where the deductibles will devastate your family’s financial well-being if you or anyone gets sick?

To add insult to injury, you may find that your “Affordable Healthcare” coverage is of no value because your doctors don’t take Obamacare!

Is Obamacare health insurance or a health tax?

Let us help you get insurance that works for you.  We have a proven, reliable solution.  Call us right now at 800-257-1723 or click here to schedule an appointment

Why You Should NOT Get Obamacare or an HMO (and What You Should Do Instead)

By | Health Insurance

Did you know that 1 in 4 people – fearing insurance gaps – say medical problems got worse after they delayed care?

That’s because Obamacare and HMO’s have such high deductibles that many insureds can’t afford their medical care!  That means that, even with Obamacare or an HMO, medical bills can be financially devastating!

The average American can easily end up spending 22% of their income on health costs, even if they are enrolled in a subsidized ObamaCare insurance plan, according to a report from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Urban Institute.

Translation: The “Affordable” Care Act is far less affordable than President Obama, or any of its backers, are willing to admit.

There is an alternative that is affordable, allows you to choose your own Doctors, and protects your family financially.  That alternative is the Life Protection Pyramid from Health Life Dental Insurance.  Click here now to schedule an appointment or call us at 800-257-1723

 

Bill Clinton calls Obamacare “crazy system”

By | Health Insurance, Health Reform

No couple agrees on everything, but Bill Clinton may have gone off-script when he insulted Obamacare after Hillary spent much of her campaign praising it. Bill criticized the spike in premium prices and decrease of coverage, calling it a “crazy system.”
Speaking in Michigan on Monday, Bill Clinton went on a brief rant and ripped into the Affordable Care Act. The faults he found with it were remarkably similar to many points Republicans have made, such as the detrimental effects Obamacare has on small businesses.

It’s the craziest thing in the world,” he added.

This is not the first time Bill Clinton has stolen the spotlight with controversial statements on the campaign trail. Just last month, he told CBS News that Hillary Clinton fainted, “frequently,” and then had the audio scrubbed from broadcast.

Video: Bill Clinton: Obamacare is Crazy System







Bill Clinton: Obamacare “Crazy System,” People End Up W/ “Premiums Doubled And Coverage Cut In Half”


 RT Question More
Published time: 4 Oct, 2016 02:58

ObamaCare Death Spiral: Even Blue Cross Plans Are Bailing Out

By | Health Reform

Texas Blue Cross is Staying for Now – but at 50-60% Increases

Health Reform: Two Blue Cross plans made the stunning announcement in the past week that they were dropping out of ObamaCare markets. If even the Blues — the backbone of the individual blues-leaving2insurance market for decades — can’t make it, ObamaCare is truly on the road to ruin.

Blue Cross was once thought to be ObamaCare’s firewall. If for-profit insurers decided to drop out of the exchanges, at least these venerable nonprofits would remain to provide coverage.

But that’s not the case anymore. Despite getting approval on an eye-popping rate hike of nearly 60% for 2017, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Tennessee announced that it was quitting three of the largest ObamaCare markets in the state, which will leave 100,000 enrollees to scramble for an alternative coverage next year.

The state’s Blue Cross had lost half a billion dollars in ObamaCare’s first three years, and the company’s spokesman said “there are too many uncertainties to continue participating on a statewide level as we have before.”

That decision came shortly after Blue Cross Blue Shield of Nebraska’s announcement that it was pulling out of ObamaCare entirely in that state — stranding some 20,000 ObamaCare enrollees — after losing $140 million. “We can’t take another hit,” said CEO Steve Martin last Friday. The decision came after the company had won approval for a 42% premium increase.

These dropouts are on top of the June announcement that Minnesota’s Blue Cross was abandoning the states individual market entirely in the wake of $500 million in losses, which means more than 100,000 people in the state will be looking for a new insurer for next year.

That same month, Arizona’s Blue Cross announced that it was dropping out of two counties — Maricopa and Pinal. It later decided to get back into Pinal County after Aetna fled the state, which would have left Pinal with zero insurers in the ObamaCare exchange.

In North Carolina, Blue Cross was contemplating an exit until other insurers dropped out, leaving it the sole carrier in much of the state.

As Douglas Holtz-Eakin of the American Action Forum put it, “This is a striking indictment of ObamaCare because the Blue plans were the backbone of the individual market prior to the Affordable Care Act and the largest participants in the exchanges.”

Worse, these departures mean still fewer choices for those stuck in ObamaCare. Even before the latest pullbacks, 974 counties in the U.S. — which represent 31% of all counties — were down to one ObamaCare insurer after Aetna, UnitedHealth, Humana and others pulled out of various states, and after most of the ObamaCare-created insurance co-ops failed, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. Another 31% of counties will be stuck with just two insurers.

Almost all of the insurers who are sticking it out for next year have put in for, and are getting approved, rate increases on a scale unheard of before ObamaCare’s “reforms” kicked in — which means that millions of Americans will have no choice but to buy an ObamaCare plan from a monopoly provider at exorbitant rates, or pay a stiff tax penalty.

To say this isn’t what President Obama and his fellow Democrats promised the nation when they shoved ObamaCare down its throat would be the understatement of the decade.

The question now isn’t whether ObamaCare is failing, it’s what comes next. Voters need to be aware of the stakes when they go to the voting booth in November.